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“ Your transaction with Mrs. Stewart gave me great satisfaction ; I am much obliged to
you your attention. Do not lose sight of her; your countenance may be of great credit, and of consequence of great advantage to her. The memory of her brother is yet fresh in my mind; he was an ingenious and worthy man.
“ Please to make my compliments to your lady and to the young ladies. I should like to see them,
“ I am, dear sir,
“ Sam. Johnson."
“ April 8, 1780."
Mrs. Thrale being now at Bath with her husband, the correspondence between Johnson and her was carried on briskly. I shall present my
readers with one of her original letters to him at this time, which will amuse them probably more than those well-written but studied epistles which she has inserted in her collection, because it exhibits the easy vivacity of their literary intercourse. It is also of value as a key to Johnson's answer, which she has printed by itself, and of which I shall subjoin extracts.
“I had a very kind letter from you yesterday, dear sir, with a most circumstantial date. You took trouble with my circulating letter, Mr. Evans writes me word, and I thank you sincerely for so doing: one might do mischief else, not being on the spot.
“ Yesterday's evening was passed at Mrs. Montagu's: there was Mr. Melmoth; I do not like him though, nor he me; it was expected we should have pleased each other; he is, however, just Tory enough to hate the bishop of Peterborough, for Whiggism, and Whig enough to abhor you for Toryism.
“Mrs. Montagu flattered him finely; so he had a good afternoon on't. This evening we spend at a concert. Poor Queeney's? sore eyes have just released her : she had a long confinement, and could neither read nor write, so my master treated her very good-naturedly with the visits of a young woman in this town, a tailor's daughter, who professes musick, and teaches so as to give six lessons a day to ladies, at five and threepence a lesson. Miss Burney says, she is a great performer; and I respect the wench for getting her living so prettily; she is very modest and pretty-mannered, and not seventeen years old.
“ You live in a fine whirl indeed; if I did not write regularly you would half forget me, and that would be very wrong, for I felt my regard for you
in my face last night, when the criticisms were going on.
“ This morning it was all connoisseurship; we went to see some pictures painted by a gentlemanartist, Mr. Taylor, of this place; my master makes one every where, and has got a good dawling companion to ride with him now.
* * * * * * *. He sooks well enough, but I have no notion of health for a man whose mouth cannot be sewed
up. Burney and I and Queeney tease him every meal he eats, and Mrs. Montagu is quite serious with him ; but what can one do ? He will eat, I think, and if he does eat I know he will not live; it makes me very unhappy, but I must bear it. Let me always have your friendship. I am, most sincerely, dear sir,
« Your faithful servant, “ Bath, Friday, April 28.”
“H. L. T.”
I Dr. John Hinchliffe.
2 A kind of nick.name given to Mrs. Thrale's eldest daughter, whose name being Esther she might be assimilated to a Queen.
3 Mr. Thrale.
DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. THRALE.
“ MR. THRALE never will live abstinently, till he can persuade himself to live by rule.' * * * * * Encourage, as you can, the musical girl.
Nothing is more common than mutual dislike, where mutual approbation is particularly expected. There is often on both sides a vigilance not overbenevolent; and as attention is strongly excited, so that nothing drops unheeded, any difference in taste or opinion, and some difference where there is no restraint will commonly appear, immediately generates dislike.
“ Never let criticisms operate on your face or your mind; it is very rarely that an authour is hurt by his criticks. The blaze of reputation cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket ; a very few names may be considered as perpetual lamps that shine unconsumed. From the authour of Fitzosborne's letters' I cannot think myself in much danger. I met him only once about thirty years ago, and in some small dispute reduced him to whistle; having not seen him since, that is the last impression. Poor Moore, the fabulist, was one of the company.
“Mrs. Montagu's long stay, against her own inclination, is very convenient. You would, by your own confession, want a companion; and she is par pluribus ; conversing with her, you may find variety in one.”
“ London, May 1, 1780.”
On the 2d of May I wrote to him, and requested that we might have another meeting somewhere in the North of England, in the autumn of this year. From Mr. Langton I received soon after this time
I I have taken the liberty to leave out a few lines.
a letter, of which I extract a passage, relative both to Mr. Beauclerk and Dr. Johnson.
“The melancholy information you have received concerning Mr. Beauclerk's death is true. Had his talents been directed in any sufficient degree as they ought, I have always been strongly of opinion that they were calculated to make an illustrious figure ; and that opinion, as it had been in part formed upon Dr. Johnson's judgement, receives more and more confirmation by hearing what, since his death, Dr. Johnson has said concerning them: a few evenings ago, he was at Mr. Vesey's, where Lord Althorpe, who was one of a numerous company there, addressed Dr. Johnson on the subject of Mr. Beauclerk's death, saying, “Our Club has had a great loss since we met last.'. He replied, 'A loss, that perhaps the whole nation couic not repair !' The Doctor then went on to speak of his endowments, and particularly extolled the wonderful ease with which he uttered what was highly excellent. He said, that 'no' man ever was so free when he was going to say a good thing, from a look that expressed that it was coming; or, when he had said it, from a look that expressed that it had come.' At Mr. Thrale's, some days before when we were talking on the same subject, he said, referring to the same idea of his wonderful facility, . That Beauclerk's talents were those which he had felt himself more disposed to envy, than those of any whom he had known.'
“On the evening I have spoken of above, at Mr. Vesey's, you would have been much gratified, as it exhibited an instance of the high importance in which Dr. Johnson's character is held, I think even beyond
I ever before was witness to. The company consisted chiefly of ladies, among whom were the Duchess Dowager of Portland, the Duchess of Beaufort, whom
suppose from her rank, I must name before her
mother Mrs. Boscawen, and her elder sister Mrs. Lewson, who was likewise there; Lady Lucan, Lady Clermont, and others of note both for their station and understandings. Among the gentlemen were Lord Althorpe, whom I have before named, Lord Macartney, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lord Lucan, Mr. Wraxal, whose book you have probably seen, ' The Tour to the Northern Parts of Europe;' a very agreeable ingenious man; Dr. Warren, Mr. Pepys, the Master in Chancery, whom I believe you know, and Dr. Bernard, the Provost of Eton. As soon as Dr. Johnson was come in, and had taken a chair, the company began to collect round him till they became not less than four, if not five, deep; those behind standing, and listening over the heads of those that were sitting near him. The conversation for some time was chiefly between Dr. Johnson and the Provost of Eton, while the others contributed occasionally their remarks. Without attempting to detail the particulars of the conversation, which perhaps if I did, I should spin my account out to a tedious length, I thought, my dear sir, this general account of the respect with which our valued friend was attended to, might be acceptable.”
TO THE REVEREND DR. FARMER.
“ May 25, 1780. “I know your disposition to second any literary attempt, and therefore venture upon the liberty of entreating you to procure from College or University registers, all the dates or other informations which they can supply relating to Ambrose Philips, Broome, and Gray, who were all of Cambridge, and of whose lives I am to give such accounts as I can gather. Be pleased to forgive this trouble from, sir,
“ Your most humble servant,
« Sam. JOHNSON."